Stars aligned with new coach DeBoer, Nill-constructed roster Blackhawks acquire D-man Nikita Zaitsev, picks from Senators Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar back in concussion protocol Islanders’ Mathew Barzal out indefinitely with lower-body injury Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry to return against Islanders

DALLAS. General manager Jim Neill sensed things were looking up for the Dallas Stars even before the season began with new coach Pete DeBoer and a roster of proven veterans, up-and-coming young players and even a teen at center.

During the NHL All-Star break, after 51 games, these stars lead the Western Conference.

“Every year you start you build a team and there will always be questions,” Neill said in his 10th season as Stars CEO. “You have ideas about how you’re going to get together, but there’s always uncertainty. . This year was one of those years when it was clear from the very beginning that everything was going like clockwork.”

The Stars (28-13-10, 66 points) have a trio of 2017 draft picks that keep getting better: All-Star winger Jason Robertsongoalkeeper Jake Oettinger and protector Miro Heiskanen. Seemingly ageless Joe Pavelskiwho is 38 years old and has already signed a new contract for next season, is at the top of the rankings with Robertson and a striker who is scoring points. Rupe Hintz. Wyatt Johnstontheir 2021 first-round pick, half Pavelski’s age, scored 13 goals.

The six-time All-Star forward was also resurrected. Tyler Seguin two years after hip surgery and 33-year-old captain Jamie Bennwho has already scored more goals (19) than in all 82 games of last season.

The Stars have a goal difference of plus 40, second best in the NHL. They are averaging 3.37 goals per game, more than half a goal better than last season when they were the only team to make the playoffs after losing in the regular season. They also conceded fewer goals and improved powerplay and penalties.

“Where we’re sitting at this break, I think the guys are happy with that,” Seguin said before being asked for the keys to the Stars leading West and on pace for a 100-point season with his new coach.

“Our style, the speed of our team, the speed of our puck is predictable. It’s all cliché knowing where the puck is going. Really how we play a squad of five,” he said. “Our pace this year has been much faster. This year we scored quite a lot of points, and we have one of the best lines in hockey.”

The Stars went on hiatus after their only three-game losing streak of the season, all 3–2 in overtime at home.

“These are not real losses,” said DeBoer, who made two Stanley Cup Finals in his first season with the new team. “I am happy where we are. I like the way we play.”

Plus, Dallas won’t have to worry about 3-on-3 hockey in the playoffs, which has been the only real blemish in their season so far. Only one team has more than 10 losses after regular time.

“We showed a lot of good hockey. We’ve made great strides in our game,” DeBoer said. “We still have one more level to reach when we return, but a lot of good things have already happened. They worked to ensure that we are now in the standings. Good place to relax.”

The Stars have 31 games left in the regular season. The first four after the break at home, as well as the last four before the week break.

Robertson is sixth in the NHL with 33 goals, and the 23-year-old has a similar number of assists, averaging 1.29 points per game, even after missing most of training camp before signing a four-year contract for 31 million dollars. Pavelski scores 48 (14 goals + 34) points in each game, while Hinz is 46 (20 goals + 26) points in just 43 games.

Ettinger, who is 21-7 on the first team, has a .923 shooting percentage and 2.26 goals compared to his average since signing a three-year, $12 million contract. The deal came after 223 saves in a seven-game playoff series against Calgary last May, with 64 saves in the series finale that went into overtime.

Neill said that Robertson’s scoring has improved even as the league has adjusted to the scoring forward and that Oettinger is proving to be one of the league’s best goaltenders. But they are just part of a huge team effort.

“They had such magic right from the start and this team got the right mix,” Neill said. “Everything went well, and it shows in the standings. It was nice to see.”

DALLAS – Chicago Blackhawks acquired Nikita Zaitsev and being drafted by the Ottawa Senators for future considerations, tantamount to dropping salaries before the NHL trade deadline.

The teams announced the deal Wednesday ahead of the Blackhawks’ game at the Dallas Stars. Chicago received a 2023 second-round pick and a 2026 fourth-round pick in exchange for the remainder of Zaitsev’s contract.

“We’re excited to give Nikita the opportunity to start a new life,” said Senators general manager Pierre Dorion. “He is a hard working professional who has shown himself to be a caring teammate and quiet leader throughout his time at Sens. We are grateful to him for his time in Ottawa and wish him and his family all the best for his next chapter.”

Zaitsev, 31, has signed a contract until next season with a $4.5 million salary cap. Last-placed Chicago can now transfer the Russian guard to another team before the March 3 trade deadline or any time within the next year.

For now, the Blackhawks are holding him.

“Nikita is giving us some extra depth on the right flank and we expect him to join us soon,” Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson said. “We’re getting an NHL-caliber defenseman and we’re acquiring some very valuable draft equity in the upcoming draft and beyond.”

The deal came hours after Vegas and Arizona also struck a baseball cap deal when the Golden Knights sent the 37-year-old retired footballer to a contract. Shea Weber and draft pick Coyotes for quarterback Daisin Mei.

Zaitsev has five goals in 28 games this season. He scored 110 points in 444 NHL regular season and playoff games with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Senators.

CENTENNIAL, Colorado – Defensive Player, Colorado Avalanche Cale Makar returned to concussion protocol after receiving a headbutt for the second time in less than two weeks, another blow for the reigning Stanley Cup champions and their reigning playoff MVP.

Coach Jared Bednar provided an update on Makar’s status, eliminating the 24-year-old Norris Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy winner for at least the team’s next two games.

Makar was re-injured early in the third period in his first game when St. Louis forward Alexei Toropchenko touched his head. He had already missed Colorado’s game against Edmonton.

Bednar said Makar’s head injuries were “obviously related” and did not think the game itself could have caused this development.

Makar has been out since he was hit in the head by Pittsburgh on Feb. 7. Jeff Carter. Bednar said Makar passed all of the NHL’s concussion tests according to clear protocol and told the team’s medical staff that he was feeling well after his return.

“He’s coming back, feeling better, taking his time, playing well, passing all the tests, coming back and getting hit again,” Bednar said. “I don’t think he’s on the record for being hit in the face with a glove in St. Louis for any other reason, probably except for the fact that he just got out of one.”

Makar missed four games last month with an unrelated lower body injury before returning ahead of the All-Star break. Makar is averaging a league-record time on ice of 26:57 this season and is nearing a point-per-game level with 13 goals and 32 assists.

Bednar defended the league’s concussion protocol and how Lavina handled it with Makar when asked repeatedly.

“We follow it,” He said. “It’s crystal clear. It really has no room for maneuver. Players sometimes show delayed symptoms. He came in last night and he had a headache and some pressure in his head and that’s all we need to hear and he went out. It’s automatic.”

Bednar confirmed that Makar was pulled from a Feb. 7 game against the Penguins by a concussion watcher after finding obvious signs of head injuries. NHL protocol also requires mandatory baseline testing and six stages of progress that a player must complete before returning to the ice in a game.

“We listen to the player when all the tests have passed,” said Bednar. “The protocol is adopted because they consider it the best protocol to make sure the players are safe and may or may not get back in the game. And when they can, they’ll get back to the game.”

goalkeeper Alexander Georgiev According to Bednar, who skipped practice to take a dental course and it is expected to be full, according to Bednar, who also said the quarterback Josh Manson absent for maintenance reasons. Bednar said veteran quarterback Eric Johnson “possibly” canceled for the season due to a broken ankle.

The Avalanche have been one of the most unlucky teams in the league this season. Nathan McKinnon and others for long stretches. captain Gabriel Landeskogwho lifted the Cup last summer to celebrate the franchise’s third championship, has still not made his season debut since knee surgery in October.

PITTSBURGH. New York Islanders center Mat Barzal is out indefinitely with a lower body injury, the team announced, dealing a devastating blow to her playoff pursuit.

He was wounded in a strike from Boston. Craig Smith at the start of a 6-2 loss to the Bruins. Barzal appeared to have taken a knee-to-knee hit and immediately left the ice.

Barzal, 25, is second on the team with 51 points. The Islanders are in second and last place in the Eastern Conference with less than two months left in the NHL regular season.

PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry will begin when Pittsburgh hosts the New York Islanders.

Jarry, a two-time All-Star, has not played since January 22 due to an upper body injury. He was…

Source: nhl.nbcsports.com

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